Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Psalm 149 is the fourth Hallelujah psalm at the end of the Book of Psalms. Like its companions, it begins and ends with “Hallelujah”, or “Praise the Lord!”
The first half of the poem says the Lord delights in his people (v. 4a). This certainly gives cause for optimism and praise. God is not an impatient parent, annoyed with his children, wishing they would just shut up and sit down. No, he is a delighted parent, enjoying his children’s activities when they use the world to farm, raise families, build, and worship. The poet responds to God’s pleasure with vigorous worship, dancing, and music.
Then at verse 6, this hymn of praise changes tune. The poet says,
Let the high praise of God be in their throat
and a two-edged sword in their hand,
to execute vengeance on the nations
and punishment on the peoples (vv. 6-7).
Don’t just talk. Pick up your sword and exact vengeance on your enemies. Praise God and pass the ammunition. The poet assumes that Israel’s cause is right and just, that God takes their side in the argument, that he approves of the desire to execute violent justice on the earth. Israel learned from painful experience that God was not always on their side. Sometimes God used other nations to execute violent justice on Israel.
But this is a “Hallelujah” psalm. It doesn’t reflect soberly on the line between Israel’s good and evil. Rather, it rejoices exuberantly in the God who has cared for his people, who has helped them in past military victories, who promises to judge the nations in righteousness.
Our father, with Israel of old, we rejoice in you as God and king. We don’t dance in worship as they did, but we do play loud music on YouTube and sing songs to celebrate your salvation.
The poet tells us you delight in your people and crown the humble with victory (v. 4). Perhaps our lives are humble. We work long hours at menial tasks to earn a living. We drive about in iron chariots, spewing noxious fumes. We are hunt and gather in the supermarket. We attend church in weatherproof denominational temples. Look on us in the dismal drabness of our modern culture, delight in us, give the humble victory.
Look on our unremarkable lives. Accept the service we offer. Enjoy our stammering words of praise. Receive our hearts as we rejoice in you.
Give us, we pray, victory over our own sins and over the sins of our culture. As we lose the culture wars, give us your favor. As our world slides into violence, grant us the victory of your righteousness and justice. As our nation loses all knowledge of holiness, draw us into the life of Christ.
You are God who will give us the victory. You are God who will set the world right. Praise be to your name forever. Hallelujah.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.
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